Congratulations! You survived college. You managed to juggle a heavy course load, master APA style, perfect your footnotes, make friendships, and attend a party (or two) along the way. And you’ve graduated!
Arguably the biggest challenge upon graduation is figuring out how you are actually going to land "the job" that will lead you in the direction you want to go.
As a marketing communications student, I knew I wanted to build relationships, be client facing, and initiate marketing strategy in some way. That said, I wasn’t sure where I would end up or how I would get there. The one thing I did have was a passion for an industry and a drive to determine what I was set out to do.
One of the most important pieces of advice I ever received as a soon-to-be graduate was to implement a job search strategy. Here are a few ways to start.
- Make a list of what makes you happy and what you enjoy doing. Really think about where you see yourself and what you can see yourself doing. If you really have no idea what direction you want to go, perhaps take some time to travel, volunteer, or freelance. Just be sure you’re doing something that will start to inform what your next step could be.
- Set goals. Maybe your first goal is to send out a dozen resume and cover letters, and if so, tailor to each individual job. When you are applying, read the job description carefully. Be sure you can see yourself in the job. If you determine that you can, highlight the skills you bring that complement the role, let your personality shine through in the interview, and show that you are eager and willing to take on the position.
- Network. Another proactive way to begin your search is by making outbound calls, or better yet, networking at events in an industry that interests you. As a recent college graduate and young professional, it is so important to network. Making personal connections with different hiring managers, companies, and agencies allows for lasting impressions that go beyond an email or a phone call.
- Don’t settle. This is probably the trickiest piece of advice for a recent grad. Yes, you want to be a go-getter, driven, and enthusiastic. And clearly, you have bills to pay. But, the first job you are offered does not have to be the one you accept. Trust me, if it’s not the right fit, there is another, better job on the horizon.
Before accepting my job at Communications Collaborative, I received a full-time offer from my college internship and also endured a fairly grueling interview process at another company. I loved my internship, but knew it wasn’t the right industry for the long-term. With the other company, I simply wasn’t excited and just felt "off" during the process. I knew I wouldn’t be happy at the organization or in the role.
In the fall of my senior year, I met an Account Manager at Communications Collaborative at an Ad Club networking event. She encouraged me to check out the CC job board and I noticed there was an internal position open as I approached graduation. I applied, interviewed, accepted the job, and am thrilled that I waited for the position that felt like the right fit for me.
As a recent grad, this is the beginning of a new chapter. You might have already found a great job, and if so, congratulations! If you’re still looking or feel like you don’t know what to do, take the time to outline what you want and how you’re going to get it. And then put yourself out there. It’s the only way to determine what is really the right job for you.